Manchester United host Chelsea tomorrow evening in a hugely anticipated clash at Old Trafford, both sides seeking to secure a statement result after indifferent starts to their Premier League campaigns.
It shapes up as a big game for both managers with the good will afforded to club legends Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard beginning to wear thin in a results-driven industry, defeat for either sure to raise the pressure on their respective positions.
Ahead of a high-stakes clash between two sides seeking silverware this season, we’ve decided to pick the best talents from either side and compile our dream team.
Here is the Football Faithful’s Manchester United and Chelsea combined XI:
Goalkeeper: David De Gea – Manchester United
David De Gea may not be the goalkeeper who once possessed an aura of invincibility several seasons ago, but he is deserving of his place in this side ahead of the relatively unproven Edouard Mendy and hapless Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spaniard has been named in the PFA Team of the Year on five occasions and has won Manchester United’s Player of the Year award a record four times, his finest performances often offering lightning reflexes and moments of astonishing athleticism.
After a shaky season last term he has largely looked more assured in the opening weeks of the campaign, producing an impressive performance during the Red Devils midweek win at Paris Saint-Germain.
Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea
Chelsea’s dependable club captain earns our position at right-back ahead of the emerging Aaron Wan-Bissaka and teammate Reece James, the experienced star a model of consistency throughout his time at Stamford Bridge.
The Spanish star is solid defensively and possesses the versatility to thrive in a variety of roles across the backline, whilst he possesses an underrated presence in attacking areas, with only four full-backs in the division having managed more than his 14 goal contributions over the past two seasons.
His leadership and organisational qualities will also be highly valued in our combined side, a backline compiled of defenders from two defences who have looked far from solid in the opening weeks of the new season.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva – Chelsea
Selecting centre-backs for this side is pretty much picking the best of a bad bunch on the evidence of recent fixtures, so we’ve opted to cast our minds a little further back when making our selections.
Our first central defender is Chelsea’s summer signing Thiago Silva who, despite turning 36-years-old last month, proved during last season’s run to the Champions League final with Paris Saint-Germain that he still possesses the nous to deal with the game’s finest forwards.
The Brazilian’s decision to take on a new challenge in arguably world football’s most demanding league – despite entering the latter stages of his career – is commendable, and Chelsea will hope his wealth of experience and leadership can help solve a problem position at Stamford Bridge.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire – Manchester United
Harry Maguire has had his problems this season both on and off the pitch, but earns his place in our side largely due a lack of viable alternatives.
Neither Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen or Fikayo Tomori have truly convinced for Chelsea, whilst Antonio Rudiger is currently exiled at Stamford Bridge and the less said about the recent form of Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof the better.
Maguire enjoyed a much improved performance against Newcastle last weekend and scored a captain’s goal with a brilliant header to equalise, and the England international will hope to build on that showing following a turbulent period.
Maguire could – and perhaps should – be joined in defence by Axel Tuanzebe, who starred on his first appearance this calendar year at Paris Saint-Germain in midweek and has the ability and potential to become a first-team regular.
Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Chelsea
Ben Chilwell has enjoyed a strong start to life at Chelsea following his summer signing from Leicester and slots in at left-back in our combined XI, the full-back amongst the finest Premier League players in his position.
Chilwell has scored once and provided two assists in just two league appearances for the west London outfit, his energy and delivery from wide providing Chelsea with a significant upgrade at left-back.
Alex Telles enjoyed a promising debut at wing-back for Manchester United at PSG in midweek and looks capable of providing the attacking thrust lacking from both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams, but his new status to the league and his club rule him out of contention here.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
Another player perhaps not quite reaching the same standards as previous seasons, but one who we’ve selected to play the deepest role in our midfield.
Kante’s credentials are unrivalled by any of the defensive midfielders in either squad after winning two league titles, the World Cup and the PFA Player of the Year amongst his honours, his energy and hard-running providing a brilliant screen in front of the backline.
Played further forward in recent campaigns, the France international has shown he can influence proceedings in both boxes, though his finest work undoubtedly comes in regaining possession with tenacious and tireless displays.
Midfield: Paul Pogba – Manchester United
It feels as if almost every selection in this side is sure to divide opinion and there is perhaps no player who polarises the football public quite like Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
The France international seemingly possesses all the talent to become one of the world’s best, but his performances are a continued source of frustration with his inability to influence proceedings at club level, often slowing down the tempo of his sides play.
He is, however, a player blessed with a complete skillset when in the mood, his powerful and athletic frame complimented by fine technique and an elite passing range.
His inclusion on current form may be unwarranted ahead of the likes of Mateo Kovacic, but a Pogba-Kante midfield axis delivered World Cup success just two years ago and seems a more than capable pairing to build our side around.
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
Arguably the first name on this team sheet, Bruno Fernandes’ impact at Manchester United has been nothing short of sensational since his winter window arrival from Sporting Lisbon earlier this year.
The Portugal international has taken on talismanic status in an attacking midfield role, proving the creative spark for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and shouldering responsibility in a side that has lacked leadership.
His current record – despite jibes over the number of penalties – now stands at a phenomenal 27 goal contributions in just 28 appearances since moving to English football, Fernandes undisputedly the main man at Old Trafford and a player who demands more from those around him.
Right-wing: Kai Havertz – Chelsea
Shifted slightly out of position with Fernandes in a central role, Kai Havertz nonetheless makes our combined XI following his club-record summer switch to Chelsea.
The Germany international arrives in the Premier League regarded as one of world football’s most exciting young players and has made a solid start to life at Stamford Bridge, scoring four goals and providing two assists in just seven appearances.
The 21-year-old is a picture of elegance when in full flow and has the talent and potential to become the leader of an emerging Chelsea side, a midfielder with a formidable goalscoring reputation and a player capable of knitting together attacking moves.
Left-wing: Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
Marcus Rashford is our choice for a position on the left-wing ahead of the equally exciting Christian Pulisic, the duo amongst the finest young players in the division in wide areas.
It’s remarkable to think that Rashford remains just 22-year-old considering his longevity in the Manchester United first-team, the forward having now entered his fifth full season as a regular in the side.
The England international has increased his goalscoring output season upon season and breached the 20-goal barrier for the first time last term, netting a career-best 22 goals in all competitions.
Lightning quick, skilful and maturing both on and off the pitch, the sky remains the limit for the forward should he find increased consistency in his play.
Forward: Timo Werner – Chelsea
The new name leading the Chelsea attack this season is Timo Werner, a forward who has scored prolifically in the Bundesliga to earn a summer switch to Stamford Bridge.
Werner became RB Leipzig’s all-time record goalscorer during a brilliant four-season spell with the German outfit, scoring 95 goals in 159 appearances including 34 in all competitions last season.
The forward combines blistering speed with clever movement and has scored three times in just seven appearances since his switch to English football, a brace against Southampton last time out perhaps the start of a scoring run for the 24-year-old.
Werner will surely be relishing the prospect of facing a Manchester United defence lacking pace and mobility this weekend, as Chelsea seek a first win at Old Trafford in six years.